CHAPTER FIVE

    Jack called it The Hotel, and so did everyone else in the county--half the county worked there.  The huge white buildings, surrounded by manicured lawns, flower gardens and golf courses, covered a whole valley.  As a teenager, Jack had caddied there and, like caddies everywhere, learned to play golf after work.  Jack knew most everyone there on a first-name basis:  the doormen, the porters, the desk clerks, the assistant managers, the waiters, the chefs, the maids, the golf and tennis pros, the spa people, the grooms, the gun-club people--and the doctors.  The Greenbrier has a world-class diagnostic clinic.  Jack bartered his guiding of a spring turkey hunt for his annual pilot's physical.

    As Jack drove home from The Greenbrier Clinic following his check-up, he reflected on what the doctors had said.  That night he called Doc in South Dakota.

    "Doc, I've decided to quit field trials.  David and I are coming up to work with you this summer, but when the prairie trials are over I'm through with trials.  I want to go out of the game still a winner, not a has been."
    "I understand.  When are you coming?"
    "We leave the tenth."

    This would be Jack's second summer at Doc's South Dakota ranch, and my first.  Doc had already eased back into medicine part-time, volunteering at the Public Health Service hospital on the Crow Creek Reservation north of Chamberlain.    Doc couldn't sleep the night after Jack's call.  Next morning he called Jack back.

    "Jack, how about if I fly down for a visit this weekend?"
    "Why, sure, that would be great," Jack said.  "I'll get us a tee time at the Upper Cascades, and the water's right for a float on the river."

    Doc waited for the float trip on the last day of his visit to bring it up.  Their canoe glided down the green water, both men working flies around the riffles in easy rhythm; I floated down behind them in an inner tube.

    "Jack, you know we've always shared one dream.  You and Dad shared it too.  I've got a plan to make it come true.  I don't want your answer until the end of summer.  If you’re willing to do it, I’ll cover the expenses--we'll do it as partners.  You'd only be campaigning one dog."

    With that introduction, Doc laid out his plan to win the National Bird Dog Championship.  They would search for a dog with the potential.  To qualify the dog, they would need two first place wins in major circuit trials, a huge hurdle.  If and when they got their dog qualified, they would train just for the National's grueling three-hour heat, a heat few dogs could even complete.

    "Pipe dream" was Jack's response, uttered as he dropped a fly below a riffle and hooked a three-pound smallmouth.

    We made it to South Dakota on July 15.  Doc's leases in the Missouri breaks bore natural prairie grass a plow had never turned.  To the west, on fertile, flat plateaus grew wheat, millet, corn, safflower and flax and endless fields of alfalfa.  Pheasants and Hungarian partridge congregated around the crops.  Sharptail grouse thrived in the natural prairie.    Homesteader cabins and farmhouses stood abandoned along the lonely roads; most of the farmers and ranchers lived in town now.  Only a few tough souls braved the harsh range winters to feed and water the cattle.  They said -50º with forty-mile winds was common, but that was hard for me to believe, because in summer at midday the prairie was an oven.

    We settled into a routine--up before daylight, the first two or three hours after dawn for horseback work, then yard work on the puppies at midday, and another three hours in the saddle in the cool of late evening.  The daylight lasted late, and we used all of it.    On my first prairie morning Jack handed me a pair of needle-nose pliers.

    "What are they for?" I asked.
    "You'll know when you need 'em," was Jack's only explanation.
   
    I carried the pliers in my pocket for awhile, but they were uncomfortable, and when I hadn't needed them in a couple of weeks, I left them on the dresser.  Then one morning as I check corded a pup, a young pheasant flew to a weedy garden patch beside an abandoned house.  I released the pup to chase and build enthusiasm.  The pup tried to climb the garden fence to get to the pheasant; a rear foot went under one strand of wire, over another; the pup fell over the top, and its foot was snared.  The pup yelped in pain as the twisting wire tightened, leaving it suspended, its front feet off the ground.  As I ran to the pup I suddenly knew why Jack had given me the pliers. The pup was wild with pain.  I grabbed for its collar to lift it and release the wire’s pressure; in panic it bit my hand; blood spurted.  Finally I managed a grip and eased the pressure, but still I could not free the pup.  Jack, working another pup nearby, heard the commotion, and came to cut the wire with his pliers.  The pup limped off.

    "Where are your pliers?" Jack asked.
    "I left them on the dresser."

    Jack didn't say another thing--just looked at me.  He poured peroxide from his saddle bag on my bite wound.

    "Take the truck and find Doc –he’ll give you an antibiotic shot.  And take that pup to the vet--looks like he's injured a tendon."

    Fortunately, the pup's tendon was only stretched, and it recovered.  I wouldn't be without my pliers again.    One late afternoon, Jack and I worked a year-old pointer puppy named Jake from horseback.

    "I love the way Jake is always swapping ends when he goes on point.  That's got to get a judge's eye," I said.    Jack smiled ruefully.

    "With dogs as with people, things ain't always as they seem.  That swappin' ends looks exciting.  But when a dog does it all the time--and it looks like Jake is one that does--it's a sure sign of a short nose.  A dog with a good nose gets scent in time to stop without swappin' ends; a weak-nosed one runs past the bird before the scent registers in his noggin."

    Jack was always worrying about ruining dogs’ noses on the prairies.  In the heat and low humidity, it could happen in a minute.  Jack explained that if the dog got too hot the blood vessels in its nose would swell, scar tissue would form, and scenting ability would disappear.  Jack insisted on short training heats, frequent watering from the plastic detergent bottles we carried on our saddles.  If a dog got hot, he would roll it on its back and wet its chest to cool it.

    The summer passed like a comet.  On a Wednesday night in mid-August, Doc, Jack and I sat on the porch, studying listings of upcoming trials in the American Field, debating which to enter.  Then Doc phoned in our entries to three trial secretaries.

    After these prairie trials, only one trial dog would remain under Jack's tutelage, the dog selected for the campaign for the National Championship.  The prospect for the Big One would be Halifax Flip, my dog, now owned in a three-way partnership by Doc, Jack and me.  Doc was the money partner; Jack would supply the expertise; I supplied Flip.  For his and Jack's shares, Doc paid me enough for my first half-year of college, and I put it in my savings account, after paying Jack the rest of what I owed him on the runaway pointer.

    The year before, Flip had spent his first summer running loose and exploring Doc's barns and pastures.  Returning this summer for his derby season, he had quickly responded to prairie training.  Jack and I already knew from workouts at home that he was going to be a big runner.  Here on the prairie he yipped with glee at the start of each workout, ran wide and fast before the horses, always in a determined search for birds.  He naturally approached bluffs downwind, head high, and he found and pointed birds with breathtaking style.    In the derby stakes of the prairie trials, Flip proved a hard-luck dog.  In his maiden stake he took on a porcupine.  When the quills hit him square in the face, he went into shock.  Doc always carried medical basics in his saddlebags, and the habit saved Flip's life that day.  With the shock counteracted by an injection, we got Flip to a veterinarian, who put Flip to sleep and removed the painful barbed quills with surgical tweezers.  Fortunately Flip's eyes and larynx escaped the needles, but dozens pierced his face and nose, his tongue and the inside of his mouth.  Flip's next disaster was amusing, except to Jack and the judge.  He pointed a skunk that reacted to Jack's flushing attempt in the way you'd expect.  On his third prairie try, he jumped a sleeping coyote and chased it five miles over the horizon.  With the last prairie trial approaching, Flip had no placements.

    Flip had come naturally to be staunch on point and to remain steady until birds were flushed.  But Jack had not hurried to train Flip to remain on point as the birds flew.    "Watch a derby close, and he'll write you a letter to tell you when he's ready to be broke," the sage old trainer John Gardner had often said.  Like Gardner, Jack was not one to rush to break a promising pupil. When Jack decided Flip's time had come, he and I left ranch headquarters early on a Sunday morning with Flip and our horses.  We didn't return until dark. The next evening, Doc came with us.  Flip pointed at the edge of a brushy coulee, and Jack flushed a brace of pheasants; the cock cackled as it flew up a draw.  Flip stayed on point, remaining tense until Jack walked to him and rubbed his shoulders.  Only then did Flip relax and wag his tail to signal his pride.

    "Well," said Doc, "you've finally done it.  He looks good--no let down at the flush.  When are you ever going to show me how you do it?"

    "When you're old enough I'll let you know," Jack teased.

    In the final trial of the prairie season, Flip placed first in the open derby and, to everyone's amazement, first in the one-hour open all-age stake.  Because derbies are seldom entered in fall all-age stakes, this news quickly spread through the fraternity.  One of the judges was Roy Fry, who said, "I haven't seen a setter run like that since Flaming Star in '72."  (Star was a legend among field trialers, remembered for his huge prairie races in 90_ plus weather.)

    Jack handled dogs with deft showmanship, and sometimes unorthodox techniques.  This showmanship could influence judgments in a close case.  Judges and spectators looked forward to Jack's performances as much as his dogs'.    Jack showed confidence in his dog.  This attitude made a difference to the dog and to the judges.  It could also unnerve an opposing handler.  Jack always rode slowly, right up in front of the judges.  That made it appear his dog was going extra wide, which was what you wanted.  It also showed you weren't afraid of your dog running off on you.  But Jack's trademark was the way he handled the dog after a find and flush.For sixty years judges have accepted an awkward procedure following a find:  the handler returns to his motionless dog, grasps its collar and leads it away. Then the scout brings up the handler's horse, and the two make an exchange--the handler taking his horse's reins from the scout, the scout taking a secure collar-hold on the dog.  After the handler has remounted, the scout releases the dog with the handler in the dog's field of view.  This technique was devised in the 1930's by a savvy young amateur handler from Virginia named Parke Brinkley.  Parke figured it would minimize disqualifying mishaps, so he tried it.  To his amazement, judges did not object.  Before Parke's innovation, the handler sought no assistance from his scout in the transition after a find.  He simply left his dog on point, remounted and signaled the dog by voice or whistle to resume the hunt.  Under the old technique, the dog, subject to distraction by the milling gallery or the handler's remounting, sometimes bumped a "sleeper" bird, lost its composure and chased.  Parke Brinkley's technique assured that the dog would be in tight control until the chance for such a mishap had passed.  If a sleeper rose, the dog, its collar still clutched by handler or scout, could not chase, and thus could not be blamed and disqualified.

    Jack disdained the modern method and took no assistance from his scout after a find.  Like a matador turning his back to the bull, Jack remounted with his dog still steady on point, then heeled it back onto the course, and whistled the shrill "all ahead full."  On this command his dog took off as if shot from a cannon.  If a sleeper bird rose, Jack's dog usually reacted appropriately with a "stop to wing," resuming point on first sight or hearing of the sleeper in the air.  This maneuver impressed judges, for "stop to wing" is the most difficult of reactions to instill in a dog, a telling sign of training polish.  When Jack did this successfully with Flip in his first all-age stake, it was mentioned in the reporter's write-up in the Field.

    After that last prairie trial, Jack and I drove home to West Virginia.  Through the fall, Jack and Flip occasionally traveled to meet Doc at a major circuit trial.  I went back to the routine of school and my farm chores.  In the time we had left, Jack and I trained gun dogs to make money.    At the last minute we decided to enter Flip in a trial at Hoffman, North Carolina, Thanksgiving weekend.  Doc flew in to meet us.  Flip didn't place in the derby, but won first in the all-age. Jack said, "You know, Doc, this makes Flip eligible for the National in February." Until then we hadn't dreamed Flip would be eligible before the following season.

    Jack and Doc planned to go from Hoffman to Homer's Texas ranch, and I was to return to the farm.  I wanted to go to Texas too, but that would mean missing too much school.  So I got a ride home to West Virginia with a trainer from Pennsylvania, and Jack and Doc lit out for Texas.  My school was to let out December 20, and then I would fly to Texas to join them.  On the 19th Doc and Jack called.

    "David, we want you to fly into Lubbock instead of Houston.  We've got a hot spell in South Texas, so we're going to work in West Texas instead--its high and cool out there, and Homer’s got a connection with a ranch there and a friend who’ll supply us good horses.  We'll meet you at the Lubbock Airport," Doc said.

    They gave me the flight numbers and times, said I could exchange tickets at the Dallas Airport.  Sure enough, they were waiting with Flip at heel when I got off the plane at Lubbock.  The west Texas country I'd seen out the airplane window on the approach to Lubbock was desolate as the moon.    From the Lubbock Airport, we rolled east on a ruler-straight two-laner, through rough range country, then flat fields stretching to the horizons, red and bare except for last summer’s dried-up cotton plants that reminded of tiny soldiers lined up at attention.  Flip rode beside me on the second seat of the dually pickup, watching the passing scene out the window like a human.  Occasionally we met a battered pickup, its driver always wearing a Stetson and lifting some part of his hand from the wheel in languid greeting.  We made bets on the number of fingers each driver would raise.  Here and there irrigation rigs stretched across the cotton fields like giant praying mantises.  The rivers we crossed were dry gulches.

    "Where you suppose they get the water for those irrigation rigs?" Jack asked.   
    "Artesian wells," Doc said.

    As we neared Turkey, our destination two hours east of Lubbock, stretches of scrubby rangeland fit like patches on a quilt between the bare cotton fields.  Occasionally we passed a windmill and stock-watering tank with a few head of mottled mixed-breed cattle loafing nearby, marked with the shoulder hump of the Brahma cross.

    "They breed cattle out here for ugly," Jack said.
    "They're ugly, but they can make a living on sagebrush where your Angus cows would die in a week from starvation or heat or cold or snakebite," Doc replied.
    "Or heartbreak," Jack said.

    The little towns we passed through seemed just alike, broad streets a few blocks long, storefronts boarded up, only convenience stores or Dairy Queens open for business.

    "This country's an awful lot like West Virginia," Jack said.
    "Yeah," Doc said.  "Fewer folks here than there used to be, and there never were many.  Couple fellows with a big tractor and a cotton picker can look after what it used to take fifty hands to tend."

    After miles without a curve through Dickens and Matador, a huge wrought iron sign by the road greeted us:

    WELCOME TO TURKEY
    Home of Bob Wills
    Population 230

    Silhouettes of turkeys--in flight, grazing, and perched on the limbs of pine trees--surrounded the message.    We passed a tiny Tex-Mex cafe, an Allsups Convenience Store, a lot filled with discarded farm equipment.  The town's five cross streets, one paved, were marked by other artful signs crafted by the blacksmith:  a fiddler, a guitar man, a cowboy roper on horseback.  The houses were small prefabs and mobile homes, the lawns grassless clay.    At the edge of town, a little grassy park held a pink marble spike.  We walked out to inspect the monument, Flip at heel.

    "Why, there's ol' Bob," Jack said.  Sure enough, the pink granite bore an etching of the smiling face of Bob Wills, inventor of western swing and star of B-westerns of the thirties, forties and fifties.  Lyrics of Bob's songs were etched in the marble around his likeness.  Jack hummed, "Faded love . . . ."    Driving through town we had spotted a sign, "Historic Western Hotel--One Block This Way."  We drove back to check it out.  It was the only brick building in town--narrow, two stories, with bright gingham curtains at the front windows.  We went in for directions to Antelope Creek Ranch.  The smiling, blue-haired lady behind the desk was the age of the hotel (circa 1910).

    "You staying at that ranch?" she asked.  " We've got rooms if you change your mind."

    A cattle guard and a crude wood sign marked the inauspicious entrance to Antelope Creek Ranch.  The road in, with ruts of tank-trap dimension, led two miles through rough range to a creek bed.  There the road forked, one branch fording the creek, the other following the anemic stream west.  A crude sign told us to take the westward fork to "Camp."

    "It's Lonesome Dove," Jack said as camp came into view.
A narrow A-roofed cinder-block bunkhouse jutted out from the hillside like a pillbox, a wisp of white smoke rising from the chimney.  A kennel of odds and ends--portable corral sections, screen doors laid sideways, a discarded pickup stock bed--held a half dozen barking scroungy bird dogs.  Mattresses aired by the bunkhouse door; blankets riddled with fist-sized holes hung on a makeshift clothesline.

    "Come on in," came a voice from deep within as Doc lifted his fist to knock.
Inside, the bunkhouse was dark as a cave.  From the back came the faint glow of candles, and two very strong odors--incense and dead animal.  They must have poisoned the mice and rats--now they were trying to cover up the smell, I thought.    A lanky fellow with long gray hair and handlebar mustache stood by the kitchen sink mixing flour in a steel bowl.  At the kitchen table sat a rotund man in a black Harley-Davidson T-shirt, framed between two incense candles like a Buddha.  His eyes were deep blue, red lines distinct in the whites.  (He was badly hung over, or the victim of pinkeye.)  His black hair was close-cropped above a round, florid face.  He too wore a mustache, full and thick but not quite handlebar.
   
    The seated Buddha was Tommy, the wild-eyed cook was Phil.  Tommy was the proprietor (holder of a one-year lease on the ranch).  Phil was a hired hand, cheerful, verbose, and no stickler for hygiene, worrisome in light of his double duties as cook and kennel man.

    "Fixin' to put on some pancakes, boys.  Pull up a chair and have yourself a cup of coffee,” Phil said.

    We said we'd already eaten and would only need directions to the section of the ranch we were to hunt.  Tommy walked unsteadily to an aerial photograph stapled to the wall.  

    "We're here."  He pointed to an oily spot where a finger had often identified camp, and followed with directions to a pasture south of the creek.  Of course, he said, our pasture was loaded with quail.
    "At least we won't have snake trouble considering last night's temperature," Jack said.      "Oh, you don't have no snake problems on this ranch . . . .”

    Halfway to the truck Doc turned and shouted,

    "By the way fellows, we won't be needing bunk space.  We'll be staying in Turkey.  We'll get our meals in town too."  (Doc, with a doctor’s obsession for hygiene, was not about to sleep or eat at the Antelope's bunkhouse.)

    We found Homer's wrangler friend, the ranch foreman, a pleasant Mexican-American of sixty summers.  Three dun quarter horses waited for us in his corral.  As he saddled them, Jack and Doc pumped him for information.

    "I handle the cattle, not the hunting," was all he would say.  The geldings loaded in his horse trailer on soft command. 

    As we followed the foreman's bouncing trailer, Jack said,    "There's somethin' not just right here."

    The path curved through mesquite and shinnery.  In the sandy low places we feared bottoming out, but we made it through without trouble.  We passed one of Homer's oil pumping rigs.  Its propane engine puttered in odd two-cycle rhythm, the iron horse head bowed and rose, bowed and rose.  The storage tank bore Homer’s stencil in blue, Ferguson Oil.

    "Ole Homer's praying hard the price of oil will go up," Doc said.  “These wells don't pay their costs at current prices, but Homer's got to keep pumping them or lose his leases." 

    After passage through three barbed-wire gaps, we reached our pasture, and the foreman unloaded our horses.  "Good luck, fellows."  We watched his empty trailer bounce back down the road.
Our pasture, four thousand acres high on a plateau, sloped east to a dry gulch and north to the namesake creek.  It was covered with shinnery, occasional mesquite and creosote trees, and very little grass.  Two straight paths, one east-west, one north-south, crossed near its center, marking it off in quadrants.    Starting at the center, we would run a brace of dogs for an hour in each quadrant, circling back to our truck to change dogs.  The first brace pointed a scattered covey ten minutes into their heat.  The birds rose one by one; there were only six. Around the motte we found a dozen empty shotgun shells in the sand.  Our suspicions were confirmed.  The ranch had been badly over hunted.  When we finished the third brace, the dogs had found only four coveys, all containing no more than six birds each.

    "Let's get the hell out of here--these coveys need to be left alone," Jack said.  "Maybe we can find someplace else to work."
    "Okay," said Doc, "but why don't we run Flip a short heat, let him stretch a little."

    So we loosed Flip to hunt alone.  The ground sloped toward the east.  A gentle breeze blew toward us.

    "Pretty country.  Too bad the quail have been so abused," Jack said.

    A quarter mile ahead, Flip coursed through the shinnery, popping into view occasionally between mottes, fast into the breeze, head high, his tail whipping merrily with each long stride.
We spurred our horses to keep him in view; suddenly he pointed.  As we loped to him, the sand thrown by our horses’ hooves struck the shinnery with a sound like jazz brushes on a snare drum.

    "Now that's a real motte," Jack said.  Flip stood facing a clump of shinnery sixty yards across, seven feet tall and thick as wool.

As Jack swung down for the flush, Doc and I rode around to the south and west to watch for the flight of the quail.

    "Deer been all around here," Jack said, noting footprints in the sand around Flip.  

    The motte erupted, but it wasn't with quail--and the footprints hadn’t been made by deer.  In every direction ran squalling beasts-- black, brown, gray, spotted--wild hogs!  Huge sows, suckling pigs, half-grown shoats.  In an instant a cloud of dust and a lingering smell were the only proof they had not been an apparition.  Flip had not moved a muscle.

    "Why, Jack, you've got him steady to wing and shoat."

    Though he'd nearly been thrown by his startled horse, Doc, laughing wildly, was unable to resist the pun.
On foot, Jack pushed through the thick shinnery to a cleared circle inside the motte.  It reminded of a bullfight ring.
We all heard the grunt.  Across the open ring, almost hidden in shadow at the edge of the shinnery, stood an enormous wild boar, its long snout crowded with curling yellow tusks.  Staring with murderous eyes, the boar lowered its head, grunted again and charged Jack.

    "Doc!" Jack shouted and reached for his training pistol, firing all the blanks without effect.  The boar kept coming.
Doc and I spurred our horses through the shinnery edge and into the clearing.  Doc's horse reared, the boar feinted toward it, then resumed its rush for Jack.  A blur entered the clearing--Flip.
Flip leapt at the onrushing boar and sank his teeth into its one tender spot, between its nostrils.  Squalling, the boar dropped its snout, trying to bring the murderous tusks to bear on Flip.  Dancing on hind legs, Flip held his grip.  One swipe of the boar's tusks would rip Flip's intestines, killing him instantly.

    Doc pulled his shotgun from the scabbard and pushed in two shells.  He could not risk a shot at the boar for fear of hitting Flip, who pranced like a ballet dancer, barely avoiding the tusks each time the boar swung its head.  Blood gushed from the boar’s snout.    Doc fired his shotgun in the air, distracting the boar, which lifted its head and ran for the shinnery, Flip still holding his grip at the snout.
When the boar reached the shinnery, Flip would be done for, unable to maneuver; but at the last moment, Flip released his bite and jumped aside.  The boar disappeared through the shinnery.  Flip chased briefly, barking in glee, then returned to Jack with tail wagging.    Jack knelt and pulled the bloody dog to him.  He felt for cuts, but miraculously all the blood on Flip was the boar's.
Doc handed Jack a canteen.  Jack took a swig and spit, then poured some in his hat for Flip.  Flip lapped, then looked up and seemed to smile.

    Doc said, “You know, Flip’s great grandsire died just like that—guts ripped out by a Texas wild boar—Barn Owl Wind was his name . . .”
    "Let's get the hell out of here," Jack said.

    I fitted Flip in a roading harness and we took one of Homer's bulldozed seismography trails back to the truck.  On the foreman's instructions, we unsaddled the horses and left them grazing, returning the tack to his corral and leaving him a check for the horses’ rental.    Back at camp, Phil was building a fire in a grimy barbecue drum; Tommy still sat at the kitchen table, a whiskey glass before him, the scented candles burning, but still ineffective against the dead-rodent stench.  Doc took out his checkbook to settle up.

    "You didn't mention hogs," he said to Tommy.
    "I was trying to tell you they was why we didn't have no snakes when you ran out of here in such a hurry.  Come back when quail season's over and have a boar hunt.  Fellows come out here every February from Missouri to hunt 'em with their hounds."
   
    At the hotel we found the pert proprietress awaiting us, registration cards and room keys ready on the desk.

    "Ma'am, do you suppose there is another ranch nearby where we could rent bird-dog training rights for a few days?  A place with no wild hogs?" Doc asked.
    "Why, sure.  There's a ranch twenty miles west that rents quail hunting by the day.  Lots of birds this year, they say.  No hogs.  Most of the ranchers get rid of the hogs because they tear up the windmills and watering tanks."

    Next day we made our deal with the other rancher.    For a week the dogs found lots of birds, and we trained on foot.  On his own, Flip developed a useful habit.  Often after a dog points quail, the birds run off before the handler arrives to flush.  (The west Texas birds were notorious runners.)  When this happens, smart dogs signal their handler.  Some tick their tails, some slowly turn their heads, some just change expression.  Flip signaled by giving forth a low yip. Then Jack touched his shoulder to signal he was free to relocate, and Flip moved up fast.  He seemed to know just how close he could get to a run-off covey without flushing them.  Jack said that was a sure sign of Flip's good nose and intelligence.

    Later that week, Flip added a second signal.  If he were on point where we couldn't see him (which was often since we weren’t mounted), he would bark--just once--every minute or so.  This bark led us to him like a beacon.

    "I've heard tales of dogs that would do it, but I've never seen one before," Jack said.

    Two days before Christmas, Doc's wife Sally and his two sons, college boys now, arrived in a rental car.  They'd flown into Lubbock.  We sang carols around the hotel's old upright piano and feasted on turkey--wild ones--in the hotel's little dining-room saloon.  At the end of the month, we said goodbye to our friend at the Turkey Hotel and headed for Mississippi.

(to be continued)